This disease is seen worldwide but is more common in the tropics. It is known by a number of names, including “strawberry footrot.” Among companion animals, it is seen most frequently in horses. Dogs and cats rarely have this disease. The few reported human cases have usually been associated with handling diseased animals.
The disease is caused by Dermatophilus congolensis bacteria. It is possible that the bacteria can live in the skin causing no signs in the animal until conditions encourage active infection. Outbreaks of dermatophilosis often occur during rainy seasons. In most short-term infections, the invasion of the skin stops in 2 to 3 weeks and the animal heals spontaneously. In longterm infections, the bacteria periodically spread from infected hair follicles and scabs to uninfected patches of skin. Increased wetness enhances the growth of the infective bacteria, leading to release of infective spores.
Uncomplicated infections usually heal without scar formation. Animals with severe generalized infections often lose condition; movement and the ability to eat may be reduced, especially if the feet, lips, and mouth are involved.
Dermatophilosis is diagnosed using laboratory tests on samples taken from the skin. Because dermatophilosis usually heals rapidly and without complications, treatment is often not required. However, antibiotics can be used in painful or severely affected animals. The disease is controlled by isolating infected animals and controlling skin parasites that injure the skin and increase susceptibility to the bacteria. Keeping animals dry also helps. The condition can be passed to humans, so people should wear gloves and wash their hands after any contact with affected animals.